It may not be the most stacked weekend of action that we’ve seen, but there are still plenty of things to consider ahead of this weekend’s boxing.
Is Bakhodir Jalolov a genuine heavyweight sleeper?
Uzbekistan heavyweight Bakhodir Jalolov returns to action on Saturday night, taking on Kristaps Zutis in his eighth professional outing.
At 6’7”, the 26-year-old southpaw matches up well physically to this generation’s brand of “super heavyweights,” and will be looking to kick on in his career after temporarily dipping his toe back into amateur waters.
Jalolov caused a stir at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships following a vicious first-round knockout of Richard Torrez. Despite turning pro in 2018, Jalolov was able to compete in Russia, going on to scoop the gold medal after an impressive tournament.
Jalolov is quick-footed and a heavy-hitter. He’s honed his craft over a lengthy and successful stint as an amateur, and a breakout performance this weekend could well elevate his charge towards some of the biggest fights in the division.
It’ll be too early to call with any confidence following Saturday’s card in Tashkent, but in time, Jalolov could prove to be a real sleeping giant amongst the heavyweights.
Does size matter for Frampton?
A tall order awaits Carl Frampton this Saturday, as he attempts to become the first Irish fighter to claim world titles in three different weight classes.
This tall order is the 5ft 10” frame of champion Jamel Herring – a man who has enjoyed an Indian Summer to his career since becoming a world champion in 2019.
Finely poised – bet365 are currently listing both fighters at 5/6 (-120) to win – this WBO junior lightweight contest should be decided on how both fighters perceive and control the distance.
How to Watch Herring vs Frampton
Herring is a big, big 130-pounder, and with Frampton jumping up four pounds for the first time in career – discounting a blown-up keep-busy fight against Darren Traynor last year – how the “Jackal” manages to negate the reach and size of the champion will be telling, and will likely decide the contest.
Frampton has controlled the distance superbly throughout his career, but Herring is a different prospect altogether. The American will be reliant on implementing a stiff jab combined with constant movement, not allowing Frampton into the pocket to fire off and bounce back out of range.
You’d back a 2017-18 version of Carl Frampton to rise to this challenge with ease, but with the years ticking by and several hand injuries to take into consideration, this Saturday’s contest is a real thinker.
How comfortable is Jamel Herring?
It’s no secret that Jamel Herring is a big dude at junior lightweight, and as he ticks closer to 36 it’ll become harder and harder for him to make the weight well.
After making the trip to Dubai earlier in the week, Herring was reportedly straight in the hotel gym in an attempt to keep his weight on point, and whilst this shouldn’t be a shock for anyone or any fighter, Frampton will be banking on Herring making 130lbs just that one too many times.
We also can’t ignore the COVID-19 elephant in the room. Alexander Povetkin clearly struggled with the long-term effects of this illness last weekend in his loss to Dillian Whyte, and with Herring testing positive last July, it’s a mystery how that may have impacted his preparations for this fight.
It could be marginal – perhaps 1% – but in such a finely balanced contest these marginal gains and losses could prove pivotal.
Let’s hope not. The last thing we want is a result accompanied by an asterisk.
Just how good is Murodjon Akhmadaliev?
Becoming a unified world champion in just his eighth fight – matching the accomplishment of Leon Spinks in 1978 – has understandably put a target on the back of Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
The southpaw and former Olympic bronze medalist tops most lists when comparing some of the talent coming out of Uzbekistan at the moment, with his strong, compact, all-action and fluid style gaining him many fans since turning over in 2018.
How to Watch Akhmadaliev vs Iwasa
“It’s no coincidence that ‘MJ’ became a double world champion after just eight fights,” Uzbek boxing correspondent Jalol Akhmedov told me this week. “Despite a close fight with Danny Roman, I can see him keeping hold of those titles for a long time.”
Akhmadaliev is still adapting to the professional game, but the future looks extremely bright for the 26-year-old. A potential move up to featherweight in the coming years will unearth just how dominant he can be in the sport, but a win over the tough and tested Ryosuke Iwasa will need to be earned.
“First, I want to become undisputed at 122 pounds, then we’ll see,” he told me last summer. “I feel strong at the weight, and maybe in the future, I can jump up.”
Is Channel 5 back in the game?
This is one for the UK readers, but I’m sure I’m not alone in the joy felt knowing that Saturday’s Herring-Frampton fight will be broadcast free-to-air live on Channel 5.
With subscription platforms and pay-per-view models gobbling up a vast majority of the sport in the United Kingdom over the past decade, a genuine world title fight landing on Channel 5 is a real treat.
Channel 5 have managed to keep the wheels turning despite the pandemic puncturing the schedule over the last 12 months, with Hennessy Sports also deserving credit for their efforts in producing cards that are free-to-air.
“Absolutely delighted that my fight will be shown to the masses on free to air TV,” Frampton tweeted on Wednesday. “It is where the sport of boxing should be shown, accessible to everyone in the country.
“Having the potential of millions being able to watch me make history is truly special. Thank you.”
With plenty of eyes expected to tune in to this fight on Saturday night, hopefully, the platform can build on this success and push for further opportunities.